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my apprehensions of God are a little cleared up, and my judgment leads the way, though nobody sees me, yet, methinks, I cannot but blush at myself, that I should ever lie doting upon these dreams and shadows here below, and not fix my affections upon the infinite beauty and all-sufficiency of God above, who deserves my love and admiration so infinitely beyond them. Howsoever, therefore, I have heretofore placed my affections upon other things above God, I am now resolved to love God, not only above many or most things, but above all things else in the world.
And here, by loving God, I do not understand that sensitive affection I place upon material objects; for it is impossible that that should be fixed upon God, who is a pure spiritual Being; but that, as by the deliberate choice of my will, I take him for my chiefest good, so I ought to prefer him as such, before my nearest and dearest possessions, interests, or relations, and whatsoever else may at any time stand in competition with him.
And thus, as I shall endeavour to love God, so likewise to hate sin, above all things: and this is as ne cessary as the former; for all things else have something of good in them, as they are made by God: but sin being, in its own nature, a privation of good, and directly opposite to the nature and will of God, (as I have before shewed,) it has nothing of beauty or amiableness to recommend it to my affections. On the contrary, it is a compound of deformity and defilement, that is always attended with punishment and misery, and must, therefore, be the object of my hatred and abhorrence, wheresoever I find it. For, as God is the centre of all that is good, so is sin the fountain of all the evil in the world. All the strife and contention, ignominy and disgrace, misfortunes and afflictions, that I observe in the world; all the diseases of my body, and infirmities of my mind; all the errors of my understanding, and irregularities of my will and affections; in a word, all the evils whatsoever
that I am affected with, or subject to, in this world, are still the fruits and effects of sin: for, if man had never offended the chiefest good, he had never been subject to this train of evils which attended his transgression. Whensoever, therefore, I find myself begin to detest and abhor any evil, I shall, for the future, endeavour to turn iny eyes to the spring-head, and loath and detest the fountain that sends forth all those bitter and unwholesome streams, as well as the channels of those corrupt hearts in which they flow. And, for this reason, I resolve to hate sin wheresoever I find it, whether in myself or in others, in the best of friends, as well as the worst of enemies. Love, I know, and charity, covers a multitude of sins; and where we love the man, we are all of us but too apt to overlook, or excuse, his faults. For the prevention of this, therefore, I firmly resolve, in all my expressions of love to my fellow-creatures, so to love the person, as yet to hate his sins; and so to hate his sins, as yet to love his person. The last of which, I hope, I shall not find hard to practise, my nature, by the blessing of God, being not easily inclined to hate any man's person whatsoever; and the former will not be much more difficult, when I consider, that by how much more I love my friend, by so much more should I hate whatsoever will be offensive or destructive to him.
Having thus fixed my resolutions, with regard to those two commanding passions of my soul, love and hatred,
I am resolved, by the assistance of divine grace, to make God the principal object of my joy, and sin the principal object of my grief and sorrow; so as to grieve for sin more than suffering, and for suffering only for sin's sake.
THE affections of joy and grief are the immediate issues of love and hatred, and, therefore, not at all to be
separated in their object. Having, therefore, resolved to love, I cannot but resolve likewise to rejoice in God above all things; for the same measure of love I have towards any thing, the same measure of complacency and delight I must necessarily have in the enjoyment of it. As, therefore, I love God above all things, and other things only in subserviency to him, so must I rejoice in God above all things, and in other things only as coming from him. I know, I not only may, but must rejoice in the mercies and blessings that God confers upon me; but it is still my duty to rejoice more in what God is in himself, than in what he is pleased to communicate to me: so that I am not only bound to rejoice in God, when I have nothing else, but when I have all things else to rejoice in. Let, therefore, my riches, honours, or my friends, fail me; let my pleasures, my health, and hope, and all, fail me; I am still resolved, by his grace, to rejoice in the Lord, and to joy in the God of my salvation. On the other hand, let honour or riches be multiplied upon me; let joy and pleasure, and all that a carnal heart (like mine) can wish for or desire, be thrown upon me; yet am I still resolved, that as it is my business to serve God, so shall it be my delight and confort to rejoice in him.
And as God shall thus be my chiefest joy, so shall sin be my greatest grief; for I account no condition miserable, but that which results from, or leads me unto, sin: so that when any thing befalls me, which may bear the face of suffering, and fill my heart with sorrow, I shall still endeavour to keep off the smart, till I know from whence it comes. If sin has kindled the fire of God's wrath against me, and brought these judgments upon me, oh! what a heavy load shall I then feel upon my soul? And how shall I groan and complain under the burden of it? But if there be nothing of the poison of sin dropped into this cup of sorrows, though it may perhaps prove bitter to my senses, yet it will, in the end, prove healthful to my soul; as being not kindled at the
furnace of God's wrath, but at the flames of his love and affection for me. So that I am so far from having cause to be sorry for the sufferings he brings upon me, that I have much greater cause to rejoice in them, as being an argument of the love and affection he bears to me; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth, Heb. xii. 6.
And having thus resolved to rejoice in nothing but God, and grieve for nothing but sin, I must not be cast down and dejected at every providence which the men here below count a loss or affliction; for, certainly, all the misery I find in any thing extrinsical, is created by myself; nothing but what is in me being properly an affliction to me; so that it is my fancy that is the ground of misery in all things without myself. If I did not fancy some evil or misery in the loss of such an enjoyment, it would be no misery at all to me; because I am. still the same as I was, and have as much as I had before. For it is God that is the portion of my soul; and therefore, should I lose every thing I have in the world besides, yet having God, I cannot be said to lose any thing, because I have him that hath, and is, all things in himself. Whensoever, therefore, any thing befalls me, that uses to be matter of sorrow and dejection to me, I must not presently be affected with, nor dejected at it, but still behave myself like an heir of heaven, and, living above the smiles and frowns of this world, account nothing matter of joy, but so far as I enjoy of God's love; nor any thing matter of sorrow, but so much as I see of his anger in it.
I am resolved, by the grace of God, to desire spiritual mercies more than temporal; and temporal mercies only in reference to spiritual.
HAVING rectified the balance of my judgment according to Scripture; when I would begin to weigh
temporal things with spiritual, I find there is no proportion, and so no comparison to be made betwixt them. And will any wise man, then, that pretends to reason, be at a stand which of these to choose, which to esteem the best, or desire most? Alas! what is there in the world that can fill the vast desires of my soul, but only he, who is infinitely above me and my desires too? Will riches do it? No; I may as soon undertake to fill my barns with grace, as my heart with gold; and as easily stuff my bags with virtue, as ever satisfy my desires with wealth. Do I hunt after pleasures? These may, indeed, charm and delight my brutish senses, but can never be agreeable or proportionate to my spiritual faculties. Do I grasp at honour and popularity? These again are as empty and unsatisfying as the former; they may make me look high and great in the eye of the world, turn my head giddy with applause, or puff up my heart with pride, but they can never fill up the measure of its desires. And thus, if I should have the whole world at my command, and could, with Alexander, wield both sword and sceptre over all the nations and languages of it, would this content me? or rather, should I not sit down and weep with him, that I had not another world to conquer and possess? Whereas, God being an infinite good, it is impossible for me to desire any thing, which I may not enjoy in him and his mercies: let me, or any other creature, extend our desires never so far, still the graces and blessings of this infinite God will be infinitely beyond them all; insomuch that though ten thousand worlds are not able to satisfy one soul, yet one God is able to satisfy ten thousand souls; yea, and ten millions more to them, as well as if there was only one soul in all the world to satisfy.
Come, therefore, my dear Lord and Saviour! whilst thy servant is breathing after thee, and possess my heart with the spiritual blessings of grace and faith, peace and charity; and let none of these empty and transient delights of this world stand in competition with